Home page Planetmountain.com
Making the first ascent of the NE Face of Cerro Cachet in Northern Patagonia (Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac, Stephan Siegrist)
Photo by archive Stephan Siegrist
Making the first ascent of the NE Face of Cerro Cachet in Northern Patagonia (Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac, Stephan Siegrist)
Photo by archive Stephan Siegrist
Making the first ascent of the NE Face of Cerro Cachet in Northern Patagonia (Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac, Stephan Siegrist)
Photo by archive Stephan Siegrist
Making the first ascent of the NE Face of Cerro Cachet in Northern Patagonia (Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac, Stephan Siegrist)
Photo by archive Stephan Siegrist

Cerro Cachet NE Face first ascent in Patagonia by Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac, Stephan Siegrist

di

While climbing in Northern Patagonia, Swiss mountaineers Lukas Hinterberger, Nicolas Hojac and Stephan Siegrist made the first ascent of the NE Face of Cerro Cachet . The route has been called Homenaje a los amigos perdidos in memory of David Lama, Ueli Steck and Julian Zanker. Hinterberger reports.

I suddenly found myself talking to Stephan Siegrist on the phone in the middle of last year. He asked me if I had time to go on an expedition to Patagonia in November. I really couldn’t believe it at first! Stephan is considered to be one of the most experienced alpinists in the world and he’s one of the most well-known mountaineers in Switzerland. He’s an absolute expert on Patagonia and expeditions. Now this same Stephan was asking me if I wanted to come along! It felt like such an honor. I said yes immediately. Patagonia was way on top of my bucket list and I had no real travel plans for the fall. My buddy Nico Hojac probably dropped my name, the two of them know each other from their mutual gear sponsor Mammut. Nico and I were in the elite mountaineering squad of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) together and had climbed several peaks as a team. We had also been on expeditions to China and Pakistan together.

Stephan and Nico had done a lot of research beforehand and it was clear that northern Patagonia was by far not as developed as the melting pot of the global climbing scene in the area around El Chaltén is. The town marks the starting point for the famous routes on Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Cerro Standhardt or Fitz Roy.

We left Zurich on November 3rd towards Santiago de Chile. From there we continued on to Balmaceda and Coyhiache. William Clark – yes that’s really his name – a long-time Argentinian friend and expedition partner of Steph’s, was waiting for us and we proceeded to check if our gear was complete right after we arrived.

William had tents, cookers and so forth with him; things that Steph had left in Patagonia after his last trips. Still we had some things to get. So, our first stop was the hardware store in Coyhiache. It was quite bizarre: I’m not even in Chile for 24 hours yet, it’s my first time south of the equator, and what do I do first? I go to the hardware store with three friends. We needed tarps, wires, saws, cooking pots, gas and a few more things for basecamp. Then we continued to the supermarket. We left with three full grocery carts full of food for our six-week trip and with $900 less in our pockets. We pretty much had all we needed now.

William drove us to Puerto Bertrand with his pick-up the next day, 280km south of Coyhiache. Almost 500kg of gear in the back and five people in the driver’s cab almost brought the vehicle to its knees but we made it. We were greeted in Puerto Bertrand with a blue sky but also with storm winds up to 150 km/h that made the water on the lake fly.

It was unthinkable to cross Lago Plomo to get to where the trail towards basecamp and Nef Glacier starts. We had to weather the storm, as it’s correctly called according to Tobi. Tobi is a friend of Steph’s, a journalist from Hamburg, with whom he had been to Kashmir before. He was supposed to accompany us to basecamp and go back in about two weeks.

We had to wait two days before we could take the small boat our gauchos Hector and Don Ramon provided before we could cross Lago Plomo to the ranch. It was the starting point of our trip 'Into the Wild'. What followed was a two-and-a-half-day foot march through scrubland and marshes, over a few rock spurs and along the banks of the Rio Soler. Six packhorses that belonged to Hector, Don Ramon, and his brother Luis carried our food and gear. They brought our entire material up to the last part of the woodlands in the valley. This is where we set up our basecamp. We built a small, open forest cabin from deadwood, wire and a sturdy tarp – our kitchen, dining room, and chill out lounge in one.

We had to stay in our tents and in our camp the first two weeks. The Patagonian weather presented itself from its rainy, diva-like side. We spent our time with sessions on the finger board, playing chess, reading or building small protective barriers against the imminent flood waters from the near-by river. But really, we just wanted one thing: to finally go climbing.

When the weather improved for a day, we took the chance and got underway. 20 kilometers and almost 2.500 meters in altitude gain later we stood on the summit of the 2.799-meter-high high Cerro Largo. We reached the summit mushroom and climbed in almost vertical rime ice during twilight to the peak after nine hours of a cumbersome ascent with skis (which Robert Jasper and his team were kind enough to leave to us in Chile) across the Nef Glacier. An intense feeling of happiness washed over us on our last few feet. It was beyond words. Around us the inland ice and far off to the west the Pacific was shimmering golden in the evening sun. It was the first summit in Patagonia for Nico and me. What a day!

Our eyes didn’t just gaze to the west in the direction of the Pacific. The striking north-east face of Cerro Cachet caught our attention on the other side. The mountain that’s about 2.700m had only been climbed once after its first ascent in 1971 by mountaineers from New Zealand. Both ascents were made via the rather easy ramp from the inland ice. There had not been an ascent through the vertical north-east face – our challenge for the next stable weather window.

But as nice as the view and the feelings of happiness were on the peak it suddenly clicked – we still had the arduous descent before us. We were only wearing our mountain boots and to ski with them across the glacier that was eroded by the wind and in parts just polished was real torture. We made it back to basecamp after 16 hours of strain – dead tired, hungry, but also more than happy. We didn’t realize what exactly we had just accomplished until we were sitting around the midnight campfire. So to celebrate the day we had a can of tuna with our pasta that night.

The fact that the north-east face of Cerro Cachet was still unclimbed wouldn’t let us go. A few days later stable weather was forecast for several days and we began our mission Cachet. We had to sit out some bad weather in our tent in ABC on the second day after several hours of foot march across the Nef Glacier to the foot of the wall. We set off on the third day. Our route led over an iced-up ramp up to a pass that was studded with rime ice. Here we made a short abseil and a counter-ascent directly beneath the 600 meter headwall. A vertical and wild path through the ice marked the logical line. However, we had to side-track to the left into the rock after we had climbed one pitch. The sun caused more ice fall than we were looking for. We did find a climbable and objectively safe route through very nice and exciting mixed terrain pitch after pitch.
We were able to protect the hardest pitches – we suggest them to be around M7+- with friends and pitons. But a few pitches lead over a thin and steep ice. The hollow cavities lying beneath them required nerves of steel.

We finally made it over the 600m snow cornice covering the peak after climbing through the ice and rock wall for ten hours. A thick ocean of fog covered the inland ice, the easy summit ridge was in front of us. It was just after 6pm as we finally stood on the main peak of Cerro Cachet. We fell in each other’s arms. Not as the first rope team ever, but as the first that had reached the summit via the north-east wall.

Steph laid down a small doll on the peak. It was meant for our friend and climbing partner Julian Zanker. Julian was supposed to be on this expedition to Patagonia, too. But he died in February 2019 after a fall in the north face of the Eiger. In a sense he was with us on our climb to the summit of Cerro Cachet. It was a very emotional moment for Steph. The name of our route is also in memory of Julian: Homenaje a los amigos perdidos is what we called it. It means In Memory of Lost Friends. It’s a tribute to Ueli Steck (40), who had a fatal accident on Nuptse in 2017 as well as to 28-year-old Austrian David Lama, who lost his life during an expedition when an avalanche caught him in Canada in the spring of 2019 (with Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley, Ed), and of course to Julian (28).

Aside from a few wild bulls that we had to dodge our expedition only had one real critical moment. It was during the descent of our route that we named after our deceased friends, of all things. The sun had warmed the rocks about 300 meters above the access ramp so much during the course of the day that rime ice the size of cars cut loose in the darkness and literally bombarded us for about an hour. It was a pretty nasty loss of control since there was no way for us to get out of the fall zone in the ramp. But luck was on our side.

We were less lucky after our long hike back to basecamp. Our thoughts had been revolving around a piece of Chilean beef that our gaucho Hector had gifted us. We saved it as a treat after a successful summit ascent. How we would prepare the entrecôte was our number one subject of conversation during our descent. We kept the meat cooled in a water bag in the river. The barbeque grill was ready to go by the time we noticed the extent of the catastrophe: the water bag had a hole; the meat was completely rotten and reeked of decay. There was only one thing left: “liquid chicken.” Our last beers helped to forget the lost asado.

by Lukas Hinterberger

Cerro Cachet NW Face (2700m circa), Patagonia
Homenaje a los amigos perdidos in memory of David Lama, Ueli Steck and Julian Zanker
M7+, 1500m from Nef glacier. Demanding, varied mixed climb

Link: Mammut

Share


NEWS / Related news:
Cerro Kishtwar, new route in Himalaya climbed by Thomas Huber, Stephan Siegrist, Julian Zanker
11.11.2017
Cerro Kishtwar, new route in Himalaya climbed by Thomas Huber, Stephan Siegrist, Julian Zanker
On 14 October 2017 German alpinist Thomas Huber and the Swissmen Stephan Siegrist and Julian Zanker made the first ascent of ‘Har Har Mahadev’, a new climb up the NW Face of Cerro Kishtwar. This is only the 4th ascent of the 6155 m peak located in the Indian Himalaya.
Jeff Lowe's Eiger Metanoia finally repeated by Thomas Huber, Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli
13.01.2017
Jeff Lowe's Eiger Metanoia finally repeated by Thomas Huber, Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli
From 29 to 30 December 2016 Thomas Huber, Stephan Siegrist and Roger Schaeli scored the long-awaited second ascent of Metanoia, Jeff Lowe’s masterpiece on the North Face of the Eiger. The route was established solo over a period of nine days in winter 1991 by the leading American alpinist and, despite attempts, had been unrepeated. Thomas Huber provides the report.
Kishtwar: three Himalayan first ascents by Siegrist, Senf and Abegglen
17.10.2014
Kishtwar: three Himalayan first ascents by Siegrist, Senf and Abegglen
In September 2014 Dres Abegglen, Thomas Senf and Stephan Siegrist made the first ascents of the peaks Shiepra 5885m and Kharagosa 5840m in the Kishtwar region of India's Himalaya. Furthermore, at the start of October the trio climbed a new route up Kishtwar Shivling, making what is believed to be only the mountains second ascent.
Cerro Torre climbed in winter by Siegrist, Arnold, Huber and Villavicencio
22.08.2013
Cerro Torre climbed in winter by Siegrist, Arnold, Huber and Villavicencio
On 30 July Stephan Siegrist, Dani Arnold, Thomas Huber and Matias Villavicencio succeeded in a rare winter ascent of Cerro Torre, Patagonia.
Cerro Standhardt winter success for Siegrist, Senf and Weber
16.08.2012
Cerro Standhardt winter success for Siegrist, Senf and Weber
Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Senf and Ralf Weber have successfully climbed Cerro Stanhardt, the northermost summit of Patagonia's Cerro Torre group, in winter and in alpine style via the classic Exocet route.
Cerro Kishtwar important Himalayan first ascent for David Lama, Stephan Siegrist, Denis Burdet and Rob Frost
30.10.2011
Cerro Kishtwar important Himalayan first ascent for David Lama, Stephan Siegrist, Denis Burdet and Rob Frost
David Lama, Stephan Siegrist, Denis Burdet and Rob Frost have established a new route up the NW Face via their Yoniverse to reach the summit of Cerro Kishtwar (6155m), Himalaya. Siegrist and Burdet then ascended the nearby untouched 6040m peak White Saphire.
Torre Egger Patagonia, first winter ascent by Siegrist, Arnold and Senf
10.08.2010
Torre Egger Patagonia, first winter ascent by Siegrist, Arnold and Senf
On 03/08/2010 the alpinists Stephan Siegrist, Dani Arnold and Thomas Senf carried out the4 first winter ascent of Torre Egger (2685m), Patagonia.
Antarctic, new routes for Huber, Siegrist and Richl
04.02.2009
Antarctic, new routes for Huber, Siegrist and Richl
Interview with Alexander Huber who together with his brother Thomas, Stephan Siegrist and Max Riechl carried out three first ascents on Holtanna and Ulvetanna, two relatively unknown, remote and beautiful mountains in the Antarctic.
Arwa Tower NE Face first ascent by Siegrist, Senf and Burdet
26.06.2007
Arwa Tower NE Face first ascent by Siegrist, Senf and Burdet
On 07/06/2007 Stephan Siegrist, Thomas Senf and Denis Burdet carried out first ascent of Lightning Strike (VI M5 5.9 A3 1000m) up the NE Face of Arwa Tower (6352m), Garhwal Himalaya, India.

SEARCH news

ZONE

CATEGORY

Full text search

AUTHOR

EXPO / Products
EXPO / Company News
Planetmountain.com logo
Planetmountain.com is updated daily: news, rock climbing, walks, trekking, alpinism, freeride skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding and ice climbing on the mountains worldwide. Furthermore, climbing techniques explained, gear & book reviews, expert advice, mountain photography, interviews and competition reports.
NEWSLETTER

Subscriber to receive the weekly newsletter with all the latest news from planetmountain.com

CLASSIFIEDS
Recent Comments Ice
  • Distensione
    Via sportiva molto bella, dalla linea logica, in ambiente su ...
    2017-09-14 / Michele Lucchini
  • L'uomo Volante
    Il 10 giugno 2017, insieme all'amico Michele, decidiamo di r ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • Gallo George
    Il 16 luglio 2016, invogliati dalla relazione, ci siamo avve ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • All-in
    Francesco Salvaterra e Filippo Mosca 27 gennaio 2017, probab ...
    2017-02-02 / Francesco Salvaterra